As a company whose office is a stone’s throw from Dublin’s iconic Aviva stadium, Ogier Leman like rugby – a lot. From trainee to partner, many Leman employees love to spend a weekend cheering on their beloved teams (we are proud supporters of Leinster Rugby – although all four provinces are represented amongst the staff!). In the office you might overhear the team catching up on the score of recent games over coffee on weary Monday mornings. Even those who’ve never played can get involved – the beauty of rugby is, it’s a wonderfully watchable sport.
But there’s a lot we don’t know about the so-called “gentleman’s game”. Here is a quick deep dive into one of our firm’s favourite sports…
1. Rugby was invented by chance
It’s often said amongst die-hard rugby fans that the bare idea of rugby came about not be design but by chance. Legend has it that rugby was invented when Englishman William Webb Ellis, as a young man, picked up a football during a match – no doubt impatient with his team’s progress – and ran off with it in his hands. Although we have no proof this really happened, it has been adopted as rugby’s birth story, and today, a rugby World Cup Trophy is named for Ellis.
2. The same whistle is used for every game in a Rugby World Cup series
According to the National League Rugby website, it is true that the same whistle is blown for the beginning of every game of the Rugby World Cup Tournaments. This would sound more impressive had there been more than 9 so far! In any case, to hold on to a whistle and have it exchanged over countries without being lost is quite remarkable.
3. Rugby came to Ireland in 1875
The history of the Ireland national rugby union team began in 1875, when Ireland played its first international match, a 0–7 loss against England. Ireland has competed in the Six Nations (formerly known as the Five Nations, and originally known as the Home Nations) rugby tournament since 1883. The Ireland national rugby union team has also competed at the Rugby World Cup every four years since its inception in 1987.
4. The sport’s first superstar was All Black player Jonah Lomu
New Zealand’s Jonah Lomu was the sport’s first superstar after announcing himself to the world at the 1995 World Cup, and he remains one of the most recognisable figures in rugby. He’s still the record try-scorer in Rugby World Cup history with a total of 15. Despite his enormous 18st frame, Lomu could run a remarkable 100 metres in 11 seconds in his prime. Watch him at his bulldozing best below.
5. There have been only two Irish World Rugby Player of the Year Winners
Since the advent of the World Rugby Player of the Year award in 2001, Ireland has been responsible for two winners of the honor. The first came in 2001, when hooker Keith Wood was recognized as the best rugby player on the planet; the do-it-all front rower in fact held the record for most test match tries by a front rower until in 2018 the United States’ own Joe Taufeteʻe overtook the Ireland great. The second Irish winner of the award was flyhalf Johnny Sexton in 2018, after the talismanic leader willed his team to a Grand Slam, a three-game series victory in Australia, and a major upset of the All Blacks. Sexton will always be remembered for his exceptional service to the green shirt over the years, but 2018 was possibly his greatest stroke.